Empirical Theories - Empirical Theories Understanding...

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Empirical Theories: Understanding Politics & Normative Political Ideologies: Evaluating Politics Reading Assignment: Schmidt, Shelley, and Bardes, Chapter One Definitions: Definition of three key terms: politics, government, and power. Politics is defined: as "how gets what, where, when, & how" or the "authoritative allocation of values". Government is defined as: "an institution composed of decision-maker's who decide who gets what, where, when & how" and who possess the power to enforce those rules. Power: The ability to get another actor to do what they would otherwise have been done. Power is manifested in a variety of different ways: force, coercion, accommodation, and persuasion. You can ask two very different types of questions and develop two very different types of theories about American and Texas politics and government and power. What is the current reality of American government - regardless of whether you like that reality of not? The first type of question is about describing, explaining, and predicting how American politics and American Government actually operate. When we ask these type of questions we are engaged in developing empirical theory. Not all political scientists agree about how best to describe, explain, or predict American politics. As we shall see, there are, in fact, different empirical theories about our system. But all empirical theories share in common the fact that they are NOT evaluating policies or governmental action as good or bad; they are simply attempting to understand the reality of American politics. Over the course of the semester, you should try to determine which empirical theory (theories) of American politics are the most accurate and best describe reality.
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(2) Normative Political Ideologies: Evaluating Politics. What SHOULD American politics & American government look like? How do we know whether a particular policy is good or bad or what American government should do? Once again, we will see that there are major disagreements about what makes for a good or bad policy or good or bad governmental action. In other words, different people hold different normative political ideologies (or normative political theories) about what American politics should look like. Over the course of the semester, you should begin to develop your own political ideology. Empirical Theories: Understanding Politics The central goal of human knowledge is to understand how & why various aspects of the world operate. This is true of all the natural sciences (e.g. biology, chemistry, astronomy, etc) and it is also true of the social sciences (e.g. psychology, sociology, history and, for our purposes in this course: political science). In each of these disciplines there is often disagreement about how & why that part of the world operates. These disagreements take the form of competing empirical theories . For example, different anthropologists pose different theories about how, where, and why mankind's ancestors managed to harness
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This note was uploaded on 04/13/2008 for the course POL 1013 taught by Professor Dr.j.philiprogers during the Spring '05 term at The University of Texas at San Antonio- San Antonio.

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Empirical Theories - Empirical Theories Understanding...

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